1. The activities of hexokinase (EC 220.127.116.11) and phosphofructokinase (EC 18.104.22.168) have been studied in homogenates of adipose tissue taken from human diabetics, fasting and control patients.
2. Three isoenzymes of hexokinase were observed with apparent Km values for glucose of 1.04 × 10-5 m, 2.6 × 10-4 m and 2.9 × 10-4 m, respectively.
3. No change in activity of hexokinase was found in adipose tissue of untreated diabetics (n = 22), treated diabetics (n = 13) or non-diabetic controls. However, fasting was associated with a decrease of approx. 40% in the activity of hexokinase in adipose tissue.
4. In contrast, there was a marked decrease in the activity of phosphofructokinase in adipose tissue from untreated diabetics (n = 24) which was restored to normal by either insulin therapy or treatment by hypoglycaemic drugs.
5. There was a negative correlation between the phosphofructokinase/hexokinase ratio in adipose tissue and the fasting blood glucose (P = 0.01) and the 2 h blood glucose (P = 0.03) after an oral glucose load (50 g).
6. The functional significance of the changes in enzyme activities is discussed in relation to the glucose intolerance of diabetes.